It’s Like Websurfing, *Without* the Web!

This weekend, I managed to get to the beach for some surfing for the first time in a very long time. I took my dad’s old Challenger Twin Fin, which, while weathered with many years’ use, still performed admirably despite the dings and repairs made to it over the years.

The waves were excellent – as the tide came in, they started breaking far out with a nice barrel forming near the jetty. I managed to stand on the surfboard only once, my dad’s board being un-waxed and me being too lazy (and having to much fun) to leave the beach and go buy more. So for the most part, it was really too slippery to ride any way other than kneeling. (We did manage to find some wax in my cousin’s beach locker after we were done for the day, so we applied it and should have a much better time next session, in terms of board stickiness).

I also managed to do quite a bit of body boarding, though my tricks are a bit rusty and I was relegated to simply cutting along the inside of the wave and seeing how fast I could go. The sense of speed you feel as the water pushes you along is hard to describe as anything other than one of the best feelings in the world.

As I sat on the beach watching the sea darken as the sun sank behind me, I thought about how cool it would be if someday virtual reality and computer simulations ever came at all close to being able to replicate the feeling of surfing. With all of the advances we’ve made over the years in graphical capability, as well as the recent push for 3D display technology in PCs and televisions, it seems that simulating an advanced, realistic environment is a priority in display technology in the future. Imagine if we could also simulate motion, touch, smells; the possibilities are endless. Not only in entertainment, either. Imagine how great a virtual medical simulation would be if the doctor using the simulation felt truly “in” the environment, rather than using a proxy like a mouse or joystick controller.

I think the medical and entertainment industries can push each other forward in this regard, so the common person may eventually experience feelings like surfing, flying fighter jets, or going into space – it’s really just a matter of how much we can innovate. So let’s keep pushing virtual simulation technology forward!